Exactly a year ago, the German national team was – once again – on the ground. Although they won the last group game at the World Cup in Qatar 4-2 against Costa Rica, it was not enough to reach the round of 16. At the same time, Japan had beaten Spain, who, like Germany, finished with four points. Unfortunately, the Spaniards scored seven goals (!) in their first game against Costa Rica and thus won the direct goal comparison against the DFB team. The dream of a World Cup title or at least a semi-successful tournament was shattered and German football suffered a painful defeat.

Now the European Championships are coming up in our own country next year. And the closer the tournament gets, the greater the concerns surrounding the national team become. New national coach Julian Nagelsmann has not yet found a recipe to visibly get the German team back on track as the successor to the dismissed Hansi Flick. That might be asking too much after four games, but the nerves are rising. This can be seen from the fact that tournament director Philipp Lahm was drawn into clearly criticizing Nagelsmann shortly before the European Championship group draw in Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie on Saturday. As the person responsible for the major event, Lahm sees his work at risk. The 2014 world champion wants to create a second summer fairy tale – for this he needs a German team that doesn’t fail miserably again in the preliminary round or in the round of 16, like at the last European Championship.

In “Players – The Sports Podcast” on Deutschlandfunk, Lahm made it clear, among other things, what he thinks of Nagelsmann’s latest personnel experiments: namely, nothing at all. “What actually characterizes a team? What kind of cohesion does it take to play football successfully? That’s what I want from the current team, too, from the coach, that he puts the players in the right positions where they have experience,” said he.

Without naming names, Lahm was alluding to the tactical measure taken by Nagelsmann, who had fielded Kai Havertz in the left-back position, which was unfamiliar to him, in the national soccer team’s recent European Championship test matches. Even though the Arsenal professional acted very offensively and played well overall, the tactical structure of the DFB selection got into disarray several times, especially in the 2:3 against Turkey. In the following 2-0 defeat against Austria, Nagelsmann stuck to his measures without success.

Lahm calls for a different mentality in the team. The players need to know “what are they actually doing this for, what am I actually playing for, who am I actually playing for in the national team,” said Lahm. An example for him is the home World Cup in 2006, when the mood was also precarious after a 4-1 defeat in Italy just three months before kick-off, but the team then improved enormously during the tournament.

“We drew the conclusions from that in 2006. Everyone concentrated on what was important, on their role in the team and put themselves at the service of the team. I think that was a big key to success, that everyone knew about this opportunity only comes once in a lifetime,” Lahm recalled of the summer fairy tale of 2006.

The honorary captain assured that there would be no other parallel to the home World Cup. In contrast to the previous tournament, this time there will be no scandals about possible corruption and misconduct by officials. “I can promise that. Everything was transparent and open, so I can put my hand in the fire for myself and my organization,” promised Lahm.

The European Championship groups will be drawn in Hamburg on Saturday (6 p.m./ZDF, RTL and MagentaTV). As hosts, Germany is in first place in Group A. Possible difficult opponents are Italy, the Netherlands, but also Austria and Turkey.